The upcoming Belgian Grand Prix serves as a year milestone since Audi officially disclosed its 2026 F1 entry. The entry was first made through a works powertrain programme before the buyout of Sauber was confirmed.
However, since the announcement, Audi has changed its CEO, replacing Markus Duesmann who oversaw the entry. On top of that, rumours are rampant that the manufacturer’s engine programme is lagging behind its planned schedule by months. Despite this, in June, Audi revealed that a one-cylinder mule engine has undergone tests and a full specification unit will be prepped for dyno initiation at the beginning of 2024.
In addition to these potential hurdles, Sauber, which now has the backing of Alfa Romeo and Audi, has had a difficult season even with the capacity to reach the cost cap.
Sauber’s managing director, Alessandro Alunni Bravi, responded to F1 Flow.com’s request for clarification on the state of the 2026 programme, defending the operation and stating that no modification of the plan is necessary.
He stated: “Above all, it’s pleasing to hear that the Audi project is coming out of the shadows. We don’t possess this type of information [made public].
“As for our programme, we’re on the correct path. We’re pushing to expand the team over the upcoming two seasons.
“We are aware of the financial restrictions but we, along with Andreas Seidl [Sauber CEO], are addressing all of our shortcomings and actively seeking the best opportunities in the market to bring quality into our team and improve our facilities.
“Therefore, no changes are necessary for us or Audi.”
Andreas Seidl, ex-McLaren team principal, has recruited his former Woking associate and technical chief, James Key, who was previously dismissed by Seidl’s successor Andrea Stella.
The Alfa Romeo outfit, which had a robust start to the ground-effect rules in 2022 due to its initially lighter vehicle, finished sixth last year but has currently slipped to ninth.
In relation to Duesmann’s termination – a move that aligns with the broader Volkswagen Group’s decision to replace chief Herbert Diess – Alunni Bravi commented: “The Audi project isn’t reliant on a single individual, but is a company-wide initiative that has been embraced at all levels. I don’t foresee any changes.
“We collaborate as a team to prepare for 2026. This doesn’t suggest that the challenge is straightforward.
“We’re up against formidable rivals; we need to stay humble and constantly give our best as the competition is incredibly intense for everyone, particularly for the PU manufacturers.
“I expect the 2026 competition to be extremely fierce. Thus, we need to remain focused on our responsibilities, and the departure of Mr Duesmann hasn’t altered anything.”
Following failed negotiations with Red Bull, Oliver Blume, who was the CEO of Porsche during its interest in F1, has been appointed as the chief executive of Volkswagen.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Audi-Sauber F1 2026 Entry
What changes have taken place at Audi since its announcement of the 2026 F1 entry?
Audi has replaced its CEO, Markus Duesmann, who was in charge during the announcement of the F1 entry. Additionally, there are widespread rumors of delays in the manufacturer’s engine program.
How is Sauber performing this season?
Despite significant backing from Audi and Alfa Romeo, Sauber has struggled during this season. After a promising start to the 2022 ground-effect rules, the team, which ranked sixth last year, has currently slipped to ninth position.
Has there been any change in the 2026 F1 entry plan for Audi and Sauber?
According to Sauber’s managing director, Alessandro Alunni Bravi, the plan is on the right route and no change is required. The teams are working hard to develop over the next two seasons despite potential financial constraints.
Who has been hired as part of the development for the Audi and Sauber F1 team?
Ex-McLaren team principal, Andreas Seidl, has been recruited by Sauber. Seidl has also brought onboard his former colleague and technical chief, James Key.
How has the dismissal of Audi CEO Markus Duesmann affected the Audi-Sauber project?
Alessandro Alunni Bravi clarified that the Audi project is a company-wide initiative and is not based on a single individual. Thus, the departure of Duesmann has not altered the team’s focus or the progress of the project.
Who has been given the top job at Volkswagen following the failed F1 talks with Red Bull?
Oliver Blume, who was CEO of Porsche during its F1 interest, has been appointed as the chief executive of Volkswagen.